UKGBC explores delivering net zero carbon buildings

Large construction site including several cranes working on a building complex, with clear blue sky and the sun

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has explored the design, delivery and cost of net zero carbon buildings in a new report.

On 10 September, it released Building the case for net zero: A feasibility study into the design, delivery and cost of new net zero carbon buildings, covering two real-life buildings at the design stage: a residential block and an office building. It then explored the design alterations needed for the buildings across an intermediate scenario and a stretch scenario, which look how net zero performance targets for 2025 and 2030 can be achieved.

In the intermediate 2025 scenario for the residential block, actions included replacing traditional gas boilers with air source heat pumps, significantly reducing operational energy demand. It also saw the glazing ratio cut from 51% to 29% to cut heat loss. A cost uplift of 3.5% was observed. In the office building, meanwhile, a fully timber structure was incorporated, along with the removal of a concrete basement, lowering total upfront carbon by 39%. This saw a cost uplift of 6.2%. Under the stretch 2030 scenario, however, more substantial cost uplifts were observed – 5.3% for the residential building, with the office building ranging from as low as 8% to as high as 17%.

Based on this, the UKGBC stressed the need for supply chain innovation and investment early on to scale the market for low carbon solutions and bring down costs over time.